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Potentiometer Working Principle: Understanding the Basics

2023-03-30 19:55:46 bailing
Potentiometers are essential components used in various electronic devices to measure or control voltage. In this article, we will explore the working principle of a potentiometer and its application in different circuits.

Potentiometer Basics

A potentiometer, also known as a pot, is a three-terminal resistor with a sliding or rotating contact that forms an adjustable voltage divider. The two fixed terminals are connected to a resistive element, which can be made of various materials such as carbon, cermet, or conductive plastic. The resistance value of the potentiometer can be adjusted by moving the contact along the resistive element.

Working Principle

The working principle of a potentiometer is based on the voltage division rule, which states that the voltage across a series circuit is divided among the components in proportion to their resistance values. When a voltage source is connected across the two fixed terminals of the potentiometer, a voltage drop is created across the resistive element. The voltage drop is proportional to the distance between the contact and the first fixed terminal.
As the contact is moved along the resistive element, the voltage drop across the element changes, causing a change in the output voltage at the sliding terminal. This allows the potentiometer to act as a variable resistor, providing a variable output voltage that can be used for various purposes.


Potentiometers are used in a wide range of applications, including audio systems, lighting controls, and temperature controls. They are also used in sensors, such as position sensors and pressure sensors, where the output voltage is proportional to the input quantity.


Potentiometers are versatile components that provide a variable voltage output based on their adjustable resistance. Their simple design and easy-to-use interface make them an essential component in various electronic circuits. By understanding the working principle of potentiometers, we can better understand their application in different circuits and systems.

Key Keywords: Potentiometer, Working Principle, Voltage Divider, Adjustable Resistance, Electronic Circuits.

label: Potentiometer